Inceptio: Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour

“It’s about Roman blood, survival and money. Mostly yours.”

In an alternative New York, Karen Brown is running for her life. She makes a snap decision to flee to Roma Nova – her dead mother’s homeland, the last remnant of the Roman Empire in the 21st century. But can Karen tough it out in such an alien culture? And with a crazy killer determined to terminate her for a very personal reason? 

Stifled by the protective cocoon of her Roma Novan family, deceived by her new lover, she propels herself into a dangerous mission. But then the killer sets a trap – she must sacrifice herself for another – and she sees no escape.

A thriller laced with romance and coming of age, this first in series is Roman fiction brought into the 21st century through the lens of alternative history and driven by a female protagonist with heart and courage.

This 10thAnniversary hardback edition includes bonus content: Three character ‘conversations’, two short stories and the story behind INCEPTIO.


[Emphasis on alternate history plus mystery]

After putting it off a few times, I eventually grasped the telephone and called the commercial section at the Roma Nova legation on the pretext of getting biographical details for Sextilius Gavro. When I slipped in some questions about Conrad, I knew I sounded ditzy, but he checked out as Gavro’s interpreter. As I replaced the handset, it struck me that the commercial officer had stonewalled me, giving me nothing else about Conrad but that one fact.

I buckled down and produced outlines, plans and graphs, irritating a bored Amanda by grunting in reply to her needling. But, by late afternoon, I’d finished most of it and sat back, sipping a well-earned coffee. My browser was still open and I couldn’t resist searching the Internet about Roma Nova; meeting Conrad had thrown some type of switch inside me.

The images showed mountains and forests, a lot like the Helvetian Confederation, and a big river, cute stone buildings with curled tile roofs, and old monuments. On one site, the writer conceded Roma Nova’s high-tech and financial services economy gave them a standard of living exceeding most Western economies, but criticised them as ‘hidden and discreet’. He didn’t think much of them staying neutral during the Great War.

I leaned back in my chair. Who wouldn’t have sat out that ten-year savagery if they could have? Although it ended in 1935, it had taken most countries until the sixties to recover. But the writer admitted that the rebellion and civil war twenty-three years ago in Roma Nova had torn the country apart. I counted that through in my head; that horror happened after my mom had come to the Eastern United States.

I scrolled down, fascinated, not sensing the time sneak up on me. Interpedia gave the usual historical stuff: the Western Roman Empire had fallen, and Roma Novans had retreated to cold, fortified villages in the mountains north of Italy. Protected by political truces and economic links with their Byzantine cousins, they had fought to recover the lower-lying parts of Roma Nova, holding against all comers, even after the Eastern Empire was overcome by the Ottomans. The key had been knowing more secrets, having more money and striking back hard when attacked. Now they sat on the precarious frontier between the eastern Reds and the free West. 

I sat back and stared at the screen. Who were these tough people? Could I really be related to them?

As they traded their silver, financial acumen and knowledge across Europe and the rest of the world, they spread their philosophy of female leadership. I knew foreign countries like Louisiane and Québec had elected female presidents and, I thought, some European ones. Our own president was on her second term; now she was supporting her husband’s campaign to get into the Presidential Mansion. Would it have been any different, then, without Roma Nova?

A little before six, I stepped out of the elevator into the lobby and found Conrad waiting for me. Before I could stop him, he’d bent down and kissed my cheek casually, like a friend. He took my arm and pulled me out into the noise of Connaught Avenue. I looked both ways to gauge the traffic. I couldn’t believe it but twenty yards to my left was the same man as this morning, seeming to get a paper. This was becoming creepy.

‘You’ve spotted yours, have you?’ Conrad said. ‘I know it’s very tempting, but please don’t turn round again and look at him.’

In movies, the character who turned around when told not to instantly regretted it. But we weren’t in a movie. Surely, they weren’t spending that many tax dollars tailing me? We found a booth in a bar peopled by suits of both sexes. It was noisy but clean, and the food smelled good.

‘Okay, explain, please. Just what the hell is going on?’

‘Irritating, aren’t they? Ignore them.’

‘I can’t ignore being stalked. There’s a law against it.’

‘Yes, but what if it’s the law that’s stalking you?’ He fixed me with those strange copper-green eyes. ‘It’s me they’re targeting. They think I’m up to something. Now I’ve contacted you, they’re sure I am.’

My head whirled, and not with the din. I raised an eyebrow and looked straight at Conrad, challenging him to come up with something logical.

‘I work for the Roma Nova government,’ he said, his face bare of any emotion. ‘But I’m on leave, and my visit is for private reasons: to help Sextilius and to find you. I have a diplomatic passport – it makes things easier.’ He flicked some crumbs off the table. ‘Unfortunately, the EUS administration is a bit paranoid about Roma Nova. They don’t understand who and what we are. They’re frightened of our technology, but they can’t buy us and we don’t toe their line. The politicos on both sides smile at each other but conceal their bared teeth behind closed lips.’ He shrugged. ‘That’s what my uncle says, anyway.’

The waitress approached. Conrad touched my hand and narrowed his eyes. After getting some beers, I ordered a salad and, like a tourist, he went for the cardiac-arrest-inducing house special burger and fries. He saw my look of disapproval and laughed.

Half-slouching in his seat and relaxed as if we were discussing the latest gossip, he explained. ‘Your father’s company is of immense strategic importance to the EUS. A lot of their specialist technology is designed and manufactured at Brown Industries. All the time it’s owned by a loyal American, even a naturalised one like your father, they only keep a watching brief. But the smallest whiff of “foreign influence” would set alarms ringing.’ He paused for a second or two. ‘I’d refuse the bet that didn’t say you were in the diary for a security interview in the next few weeks.’

INCEPTIO 10th Anniversary special edition hardback: 

International Buy Link:

Amazon UK

Amazon US:

Amazon AUS:

Amazon CA:

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

Your local bookshop or library

All other formats (ebook, paperback, audio)

Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her ten-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21stcentury and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue. INCEPTIO starts the adventure…

She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading historical, crime and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.  

Six full-length Roma Nova novels, including INCEPTIO, have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review. The Historical Novel Society recently selected JULIA PRIMA, the first Foundation story set in the 4th century, the accolade of Editors’ Choice.

Alison lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her two contemporary thrillers, Double Identityand Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.

Social media links:

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site:

Facebook author page:


Alison’s writing blog:


Alison’s Amazon page:

Newsletter sign-up:

Comments (4)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *